Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Newham United Against Austerity: Keynote speaker John McDonnell MP

welcome by lyn brown mp, West ham

John mcdonnell mp shadow chancellor

Kevin Courtney
NUT assistant general secretary

custom house Cllr Rokshana fiaz 

yvonne green unison greater london convenor

join us in organising against austerity 

(further detals to follow)

Anton Moctonian RIP

Sad news to hear about the sudden death of Anton Moctonian. He was a former UNISON activist but I knew him as a Trade Union studies tutor.

He was a great tutor not only because he was an experienced trade union steward who knew practice as well as theory but because he was that rare bird in our movement; someone who was thoughtful, pragmatic and genuinely interested in ideas and different views.  

Hat tip picture and review from Camden Trade Council. 

“Camden Trades Council deeply regrets the loss of Anton Moctonian, who died suddenly at home of a suspected heart attack on Monday 28 December.

Anton, a long-time Camden resident, had been a militant union activist for virtually the whole of his adult life, having been first a NUPE and then Camden UNISON steward in the Council’s Housing Department, becoming the Assistant Branch Secretary (Blue Collar).

During his time in Camden he earned a reputation as an exceptionally committed and effective representative, doggedly defending many individual members and helping secure victories for whole sections of manual workers.

After leaving Camden UNISON nearly a decade ago Anton undertook studies including employment law at Keele University becoming an energetic and much valued tutor with Unite the union, though he also consistently followed the UNISON branch’s campaigns, not least those for the London Living Wage for catering staff in the borough’s schools and the recent battle with parking enforcement contractor, NSL.

The Trades Council extends its condolences to Anton’s many friends and comrades in Unite and UNISON as well as the wider labour movement, but in particular to his partner of nearly 30 years, Vaughan Thomas, himself a long-standing and widely respected RMT activist.

Details of his funeral/memorial service will be circulated at the earliest opportunity.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HeartUnions Week: 8-24 February 2016

"8‑14 Feb 2016 / The heartunions week of action celebrates the great work done by union reps and members in our workplaces and in society. We're proud of our unions and reject the government's attempts to damage them with the trade union bill".

Check out the new TUC website here on this campaign.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Room with a view

Off message but this has been the view greeting me in the morning for the last few days. Sheep, foxes, rabbits, grouse and various other birds (real photo edited with "painting" software). An always changing landscape where you never get bored looking out of the window. The beautiful Vale of Clwyd, Ruthin, North Wales.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"Dealing with debt", Osborne-style

Can someone please tell me just why the Tories have this reputation for economic competency? Hat tip Joel from Debt Resistance.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Having an Amazon Free Christmas

Hi John,
Just a quick note before Christmas to say a HUGE thanks for donating to send the tax-dodging Amazon ad van out on the town!

It made a bit of a splash - circling Amazon's HQ, and then cruising through London's busy shopping streets: exposing Amazon's dodgy tax tricks to thousands of people in the run up to this week.

Hope you enjoyed staying Amazon-free this Christmas - and if you haven't got down to your wrapping yet here's some anti-amazon gift tags to print off and stick on your prezzies!

See you for more anti-Amazon antics in the new year :)

Lots of love,

Amazon Anonymous

PS. Check out below for some photos of the van in action:

Copyright © 2015 Amazon Anonymous, All rights reserved.
You are here because you signed up on the Amazon Anonymous website, and agreed that Amazon has some issues it needs to sort out.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Communist Christmas Eve 2015

This is my traditional Crimbo Eve Video. Christianity and most other religions have much in common with Communism and Democratic socialist values in theory but all beliefs and political creeds in reality don't tend to practise what they preach.

Never mind. I hear that some people even like pictures of cats on the internet! Enjoy this video!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

Hat tip Stroppybird!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

West Ham fight back against Tories

"While this year's disastrous General Election result wasn't what we had campaigned or hoped for, West Ham Labour have risen to the challenge to fight back.
We ended the year on a high with our membership doubling in recent months and it was great to meet so many new members at our exciting social event on Green Street. This year we campaigned successfully in two council by-elections, and a range of constituency seats across the country. The wonderful women’s forum has gone from strength to strength, the new youth forum has hit the ground running, we held some interesting policy events including making a comprehensive contribution to the London manifesto and discussing the refugee crisis. And the Christmas Quiz was as fun as usual! Thank you to all those who made last year so successful. There are a few photos at the end...
We have a huge challenge next year to get Sadiq Khan elected as Mayor of London.
We can’t be complacent; we have only won the Mayoralty once. But wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up on the 7th with a Labour Mayor, the son of a bus driver who grew up on an estate, committed to fixing the housing crisis, stopping in work poverty, making travel cheaper and tackling air pollution and climate change. We have to win this election, for the millions of Londoners suffering under this Tory government.  
We plan to hit the ground running, join us:
4th Jan - tube and train stations
Sadiq Khan has committed to freezing train, tube and bus fares until 2020 and to introduce a £1.50 unlimited trip bus ticket valid for an hour. Help us talk to commuters at stations across West Ham - even half an hour on your way to work would be great.
We'll be at Stratford, West Ham, Star Lane, Canning Town, Royal Victoria, Custom House, Forest Gate, Maryland, Upton Park, Plaistow. Please email to let us know which station you can do.

16 Jan - Super Saturday. Lyn Brown MP will be joining us to talk to voters about Sadiq Kahn. Meeting 11am in Canning Town South at St Luke's Church, Tarling Road, E15 1HN and again at 2pm at Forest Gate station (as always don't worry if you've not done it before someone will be with you).
21 Jan - Women's Forum hosts Tax Credit and the Economy discussion with Seema Malholtra MP, Shadow Secretary to the Treasury, 7pm (venue tbc and men welcome!)
30 Jan - West Ham Trades Union and Labour TULO anti austerity launch event with John McDonnell MP, Kevin Courtney NUT, Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz and hosted by Lyn Brown MP, 2pm, University of East London, Stratford Campus

31 Jan - Sunday Night Live5pm at Stratford Picture House

Anytime... inputting data, Wanted volunteers to input voting intention records onto Labour's computer system, Contact Creator. Patience to learn and do the job required, together with a computer using Internet Explorer! Ideal for those who can or don't want to knock doors and help from home.
We hope to see you at something soon. And please email for any more info about us and any of the events. 

Warmest wishes to you and yours over Christmas, see you in 2016 to turn London Labour!
Best wishes

Ellie Robinson
Chair, West Ham CLP

twitter @westhamlabour

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Bridge Over You - NHS Choir (Cover of Fix You by Coldplay and BOTW by Simon & Garfunkel)

What a fantastic song. Support our NHS and buy it please! Hat tip Ian Dixon

"The song is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and others.

Download link (iTunes):

Download link (Amazon):

100% of the proceeds will go to healthcare charities.

Please also:

1. Join the campaign event on Facebook, and invite your friends too:
2. Like the campaign on Facebook:
3. Follow the campaign on Twitter:

We can't tell you how much we appreciate your support!

If you would like to find out more about our choir, please visit

Monday, December 21, 2015



With rising fuel costs and another cold winter looming many members on low income are worried about how they're going to pay their winter fuel bills.

Help is on hand

'There for You' has set up a limited fund to help UNISON members on low income by way of a one-off payment of £40.

To apply, visit  Alternatively, call UNISONdirect on 0800 0857 857 or simply contact your UNISON branch office.  Everyone that applies will receive a booklet giving information about other help that may be available and how to reduce your fuel costs in the future. The attached Q&A  also provides further information.

Closing date for receipt of applications is 23 February 2016.

(UNISON "there for you" also offers other forms of financial assistance and debt advice to members)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My Sunday News

Some random bits and pieces I found interesting this Sunday morning.

Corbyn against illegal budget setting
Some Labour-led councils are reportedly considering drawing up budgets based on people’s needs, as opposed to council finances. In a letter to councillors, sent jointly with John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and Jon Trickett, the shadow communities secretary, Jeremy Corbyn points out that councils must set a balanced budget under the 1992 Local Government Act. Failure to set a balanced budget can lead to action against councillors under the code of conduct, a judicial review and intervention by the secretary of state. The letter continues: “It would mean either council officers or, worse still, Tory ministers deciding council spending priorities.”
The Guardian, Page: 4

Pensioners to be charged "falling fee"
Pensioners who need help being helped back to their feet after a fall at home are to be charged £26 by Tendring DC. A council spokesman confirmed the annual charge will be added to the overall cost of its Careline service for elderly package, adding the charge is required to pay for one member of staff to provide the cover.
The Sun, Page: 35   Daily Mirror, Page: 7

Clampdown on rogue landlords
Landlords who let out filthy or unsafe homes will face fines of up to £30,000 under new laws to be unveiled by housing Minister Brandon Lewis. Council chiefs will be able to slap a new civil penalty notice on offenders to provide an instant deterrent for criminal operators. Fines will be upped for failing to take action on issues such as overcrowding and poor sanitation. Measures to be introduced in the Housing and Planning Bill will go further to ensure landlords and agents who repeatedly break the rules will be banned for at least 12 months. A database of rogue landlords and letting agents will also be available for council staff to access.
The Sun, Page: 24

Millions give up on home ownership
Bank of England research reveals middle class families are turning away from home ownership as soaring costs and a lack of supply price millions out of the property market. The Bank's annual survey of household finances revealed that just under half of all families who don't already own their own home believe they will never get on the housing ladder. For the poorest fifth of households, the prospect of home ownership was even more remote, with more than half of non-homeowners stating that they were unlikely to ever buy.

Hat tip LGA daily news
Kill the Housing Bill - protest 5 January parliament
A protest lobby and meeting in parliament on 5 January will mark the next stage of the fight against the Housing Bill.
A campaign to Kill the Housing Bill - secure homes for all launched last weekend at a packed meeting of tenants, trade unions, councillors, traveller organisation and a representative from the office of John McDonnell MP, called the protest to mark opposition to the Bill, as MPs discuss amendments during the first report stage in the House of Commons.
For more details contact Download for more.Protesters will rally outside Parliament at Old Palace Yard SW1A 0AA from 2pm, joined by MPs and other speakers against the Government' s latest onslaught on truly affordable and secure homes.
A protest meeting inside Parliament 5-7pm will hear tenants, trade unions, councillors and MPs explain the case against the Housing Bill and for investment in council housing. Last week, ministers managed to sneak in last minute amendments to the Bill to remove secure lifetime council tenancies.
 Support this campaign
* Join the protest at Parliament 5 January2pm Old Palace Yard and 5pm inside Parliament (allow 30 minutes to get in due to security checks)
* Come to the next organising meeting 16 January 11am at Unite offices, 128 Theobalds Rd London WC1X 8TN
* Organise a local meeting against the Housing Bill - contact tenants groups, trade unions, councillors, MPs and housing campaigners and lobby local MPs
* Contact or 07432 098440 for leaflets and to add your support.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Merry Christmas for the Very Rich

Check out this seasonal message from the ONS wealth data via TUC TouchStone

ONS wealth data: The rich just got considerably richer

18 Dec 2015, by in Economics
In cash terms the top 10% now own £5.0 trillion of UK total household wealth, according to the latest ONS wealth and assets survey (over 2012-14). With total wealth standing at £11.1 trillion, that means they have 44.8% of it.

Last time this was calculated (2010-12), they had £4.1tn of a £9.4tn total – so owned 43.6%.

This increased share of 1.2 percentage points (ppts) is very hefty relative to the past three readings from the ONS.

With the rich gaining percentage share of the pie, others must lose.

The chart below shows the biggest losers are those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution. The lowest 50% have 8.7% this year, down 0.9ppts from 9.6% last year.
The rest of the top half of the wealth distribution (the 40% below the top 10%) also lose but with a smaller decrease of  0.3ppts.

As a result, the most wealthy are catching up with the wealth owned by all the rest of the top half of the wealth distribution – the gap is now at its narrowest yet.

That said, in cash terms, all deciles saw a cash increase in wealth (though for the lowest decile this was because of a less negative figure for financial wealth).

Friday, December 18, 2015

Labour List "Dave Prentis re-elected as UNISON General Secretary"

 "Yesterday also saw the re-election of Dave Prentis as Unison general secretary. Prentis won 49% of the vote against three further left candidates, and the scale of his victory will be welcomed by Labour moderates. While the trade union backed Corbyn this summer, he is a hard-headed operator who has in recent months shown a short tolerance for nonsense.

"Dave Prentis has today been elected as Unison general secretary for a fourth term, topping the all-member election with 49% of the vote – almost double that of second placed Heather Wakefield. Prentis saw off a challenge from three other candidates, all arguably to the left of him, with far-left backed John Burgess finishing in last place with 12%.

The results were:

Dave Prentis 66,155 (49.4%); Heather Wakefield 35,433 (26.4%); Roger Bannister 16,853 (12.6%); John Burgess 15,573 (11.6%).

Turnout was 9.7%, and it is the first time that Prentis has not received more than 50% of the vote – but that is not surprising in a race many felt was a foregone conclusion for long-serving general secretary. The Labour-affiliated public sector trade union has around 1.3 million members, and supported Jeremy Corbyn in this summer’s leadership contest.

Prentis was nominated by 204 branches, eight regional councils, six service groups and the NEC. Reacting to the news of his re-election, he said:

“I am honoured to be re-elected and am delighted that UNISON members have returned me as their General Secretary. Everything I do will start with the concerns of our members around the country who need a union and a General Secretary who is on their side and puts them first.

“The next five years will be difficult ones for our union and for the UK’s public services. We need to stand up against a government set on consigning the public sector to the history books, whose austerity policies are starving communities of the services they relyupon, and holding down the pay and living standards of dedicated public servants.

“The last few months have been challenging, but now the whole union must come together and work relentlessly to fight for public sector workers, their rights at work, their jobs and their pay. I am proud that members have put their trust in me to lead that fight.”

Wakefield was nominated by 82 branches, one regional council, and one service group; Burgess was nominated by 62 branches and one regional council; and Bannister was nominated by 25 branches".

UNISON Lay Presidential team statement on "tampered" recording






Dear Colleague

As you know a number of serious allegations have been made against our union in London.

The complaints are being investigated.

Whilst it is not our practice to comment on an ongoing investigation on this occasion we believe there is one aspect that warrants public disclosure. This can be done without compromising the rights of those involved in this matter.

The complaint presented by *** *** relies heavily on an anonymous recording. Given the seriousness of this tape the union commissioned an independent forensic report of the recording. The Presidential Team and the Trustees of the union now have the full report from the Audio Forensic Service.

The forensic analysis was undertaken by an accredited audio specialist and the company is used by the High Court for audio evidence.

The report clearly states that "the probability of tampering is exceptionally high". On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), the Independent Expert rates the tape as a 5/5.

The results have been passed to the Investigating Officer and the ERS and as the Presidential Team and Trustees we are also asking for a formal investigation of the providence of the recording.

Please share as appropriate.


My own personal take on this is that in recent days and weeks I have been ashamed of the behaviour of a small minority of my UNISON National Executive Committee (NEC) "colleagues" and other "activists" for their completely vile behaviour towards members of their own staff.

I don't understand how people who pretend to be principled trade unionists were willing to accept an anonymous internet tape recording as gospel and then name and attack their own employees including  junior staff. By openly and publically naming and accusing them they were obviously in breach of collective employment contracts and prejudicing rights to a fair investigation. This is basic ABC of trade unionism.

Remember the NEC in law is the official employer of all UNISON staff.

If these same people were being openly named by their own employers, before an investigation has even taken place, if for example Councillors were openly attacking them and encouraging the media to do so likewise, they would bleat blue bloody murder.

It is clear even to someone like myself who is no audio expert that this anonymous internet tape has been cut and edited (just count the clicks). I have had enough experience over the years, both as a trade union rep and an enforcement officer to be deeply suspicious and sceptical of any such recordings. Now Court appointed expert witnesses are 100% convinced that this "tape" has been "tampered" and therefore doctored. 

Those NEC members are aware that our Union officials are perfectly entitled to participate and campaign in such elections for candidates of their choice (in their own time and not using union resources). Many of our officials are former Unison lay activists who have retained their membership.

While it is clear that there is some genuine concern about this matter and the investigation needs to be concluded, it is equally clear to me that people have behaved appallingly and are pursing a personal vendetta against staff.

There has already been one grovelling apology and I expect others.

At a time when we are supposed to be uniting against the Tory trade union bill it is incredible that people are attacking our union and its staff and scurrying around trying to inflict damage on our union.

Finally, the real reason why these people act in the way they do is of course related to the result declared yesterday when our General Secretary was re-elected by 49.4% of the vote. They know that they will never win a democratic election by the ballot box, so the only way they think they can win is by lies, abuse and forgery. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dave Prentis re-elected as UNISON General Secretary with huge majority (Miserablists come bottom)

Great news. UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, has been re-elected by members for another 5 years. He received just short of an absolute majority of votes 49.4%.

  • Roger Bannister 16,853 (12.6 per cent)

  • John Burgess 15,573 (11.6 per cent)

  • Dave Prentis 66,155 (49.4 per cent)

  • Heather Wakefield 35,433 (26.4 per cent)


    Commiserations to Heather Wakefield and Roger Bannister for coming 2nd and 3rd. While I was glad that the disgraceful campaign by the miserablists resulted in them coming bottom yet again. 


    I will blog further on them later and what can only be described as the conspiracy by sections of the ultra left to discredit the union #forgerygate

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lily Allen - F**k You (It's Not Me, It's You)

I so love this song. It reminds me....

Candlelight vigil for victims of Domestic Violence on Human Rights Day

This picture is from last Thursday's (10 December) vigil held outside East Ham town hall.

The vigil was held to coincide with Human Rights Day and the end of the United Nation’s 16 Days of Action which aimed to raise awareness of violence against women.

The Newham Council lead on domestic and family violence, Executive member Councillor Lakmini Shah, gave a very moving speech about how she had come across a man punching and kicking a women holding a baby in the street and she had to call upon some male bystanders to stop him. She was then able to call the Police and make sure that the women had medical aid and legal advice. The "man" was already in breach of an injunction not to approach the women and is now thankfully in prison (where he belongs).

Over a 100 Newham residents, women, men and children had gathered for a quiet, dignified and peaceful protest at these hideous crimes.

Newham has the 2nd highest rates of reported domestic violence in London and since 2011 there has been at least 6 murders, the highest in London. This last figure makes it clear that Newham DV "problem" is not just down to better reporting and is something that we need to be ashamed of, prioritise and tackle.

Check out here the excellent Scrunity Report on Domestic Violence in Newham.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My first Christmas Card 2015

This was one of the first Christmas Cards that I received this year. I have some unusual friends and colleagues. This year I will again be donating to a good cause in lieu of sending cards. I hope people don't mind.

Festive and Seasonable best wishes to (nearly) all.

Monday, December 14, 2015

LOBOs: Putting up and not shutting up

At the Newham Full Council meeting last Monday, the Cabinet member for Finance, Lester Hudson, responded to the arguments that myself and Cllr Whitworth put forward here and here about the exposure Newham has to LOBO loans.

Cllr Hudson said that the Council had saved £64 million in reduced interest rates because it had redeemed old expensive debt and taken out "cheaper" new LOBO debt to replace it. He believes that this amounts now to £64 million of savings and this is a fact and has been checked by PwC (auditors). He invited us to check this.

He also explained that we were criticising the choice of LOBO loans with the benefit of "20/20" hindsight. The real test should be what a "Reasonable person" looking at financial forecasts at the time would have expected interest rates to be. At the time the Bank of England was predicting interest rates (in the short term) to rise. No one anticipated the fall in interest rates that has since taken place. In terms of financial modelling, you should look at previous recessions and there has been nothing comparable has happened in previous recessions except for 1929-1935. The key issue is that they took out fixed rate loans based on reasonable forecasts at the time. If he had a time machine and could have anticipated the collapse in interest rates we would have made different decisions. If we could dig out a different economic forecast he would listen to our argument so he challenged us to "Put Up or Shut Up".

Unfortunately neither myself or Cllr Whitworth was able to respond to his points so I thought I would take up his challenge and say what I would have said if I had the chance.

The key issue about the £64 million savings (I will as invited be contacting PwC for them to confirm this calculation) is not that we "paid off" early some expensive loans and took out newer "cheaper" loans but that instead of taking out the safer and transparent loans from the Government (called PWLB) we took out inherently risky derivative based loans (called LOBOs) from British and Foreign Banks? Also why did we put all our eggs in one basket and take out all "fixed rate" (not that LOBOs have turned out to be "fixed") loans instead of a prudent mixture of floating and fixed loans?

Why did we take out loans for up to 70 years that did not protect us against falling interest rates but allows the Banks to raise rates if the market rate rises?

With regard to the argument about "hindsight". The Bank of England and other forecasters report "market expectations" and not "predictions". All forecasts are educated guesses to a greater or less degree. No one really knows what interest rates will be in the future. The real "reasonable person test" is "what will happen if it all goes wrong" and interest rates do not go the way we think.

Robert Carver an ex Hedge fund manager and derivatives trader who used to work for Barclay's points out "Seventy years ago it was 1945. Who then could have predicted that (bank base) rates would go from 2%, to 17% in the late 1970's, then back down to 0.5%?!"

He also reminds us of Robert Citron, treasurer of Orange Country California on making a prediction that interest rates wouldn't rise. A few months later Orange County was bankrupt after losing $1.6 billion on interest rate derivatives). "I am one of the largest investors in America. I know these things."

I will also respond to the comments made by the Mayor at the meeting.

Hat tip Nick Dunbar and Joel Benjamin.